Saudi Arabian Airlines jet 'isolated' in Philippines due to false hijacking alarm
The plane, identified as SVA 872, landed at Manila airport at 3pm local time. It arrived from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. According to the local ABS-CBN channel, there were possibly around 300 passengers on board.
A statement from the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said it received news of the aircraft being under threat about 20 miles (32km) prior to landing.
Full MIAA initial statement on the isolated Saudia Airlines plane at NAIA; aircraft "under threat" before landing pic.twitter.com/i3NC6jD5xk— TJ Roxas (@teejroxas) September 20, 2016
"We instructed (the) aircraft to proceed to (the) isolated area," the airport's general manager, Edmund Monreal, told reporters.
"It is fortunate that upon landing...the crew said they made a mistake. However, we can never play around with safety and security," he added.
"It [the button] was unintentionally pushed. But the problem is it was pushed twice."
Mga pasahero ng Saudia Airlines flight SVA 872 mula Jeddah, isa-isa nang pinapababa pic.twitter.com/z7YuzZzrH4— DZMM TeleRadyo (@DZMMTeleRadyo) September 20, 2016
Apparently no hijacking on SVA 872. The pilot sent a distress signal by mistake. Twice! Security protocol had to be followed on arrival. https://t.co/fEgiYteNO1— Phil Wheatley ☁️ (@philski68) September 20, 2016
Monreal said the plane would still be checked thoroughly, as a security precaution.
Meanwhile, the undersecretary for aviation at the Department of Transportation, Roberto Lim, told Reuters that police are “still monitoring as to why a hijack signal was issued by the pilot,” adding that “persons will be interviewed.”
Possible hijacking of Saudia #SVA872 . Praying for everyone's safety, especially our OFWs onboard who just want to go home to their families— Luigi Ong (@LuigiOng) September 20, 2016
Some local reports on Twitter initially suggested the plane had been hijacked. Others said the pilot could have pushed the alert button by mistake.
Following the reports, Metropolitan Manila's police chief went to the airport, stating there was a “situation” there, according to local radio.
The MIAA was also sent to the site, along with staff from the PNP Aviation Security Group.
The plane was taken to a secluded portion of runway 6, ABS-CBN News reported.
JUST IN: Saudia Airlines flight SVA 872 from Jeddah landed at 3PM at NAIA and was placed in total isolation at secluded portion of runway 06 pic.twitter.com/lpwVRsgqRS— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) September 20, 2016
However, the plane's crew informed the airport upon landing that the distress call made during the flight was a mistake, according to the airport's general manager. Saudi Arabian Airlines also said the alarm was false.